Netflix will be required to stream 20 state TV channels in Russia

The country's communications watchdog has registered the platform as an 'audiovisual service.'

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Kris Holt
December 31st, 2021
The Netflix logo is seen on the Netflix, Inc. building on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California on October 19, 2021. - Netflix reported billion-dollar profits and booming subscriber growth on October 19 that beat forecasts as global hits like Squid Game drew viewers in droves. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
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Starting in March, Netflix will have to stream 20 state television channels in Russia. Roskomnadzor, the country's media watchdog, registered the platform as an "audiovisual service" this week. Among the channels Netflix will have to carry are the flagship Channel One, entertainment network NTV and a Russian Orthodox Church channel called Spas (which means "Saved").

Streaming services with more than 100,000 daily users in Russia are included on the register, which was established late last year. Not only must registered platforms offer state TV channels, they need to set up a Russian company, according to The Moscow Times.

Companies on the register also have to abide by Russian laws. For one thing, Netflix will not be allowed to promote "extremism." Critics claim that provision has been wielded against those who support the Kremlin's opponents.

Other video services in the country reportedly argued that Netflix should be added to the register to level the playing field, since it meets the requirements. The Russian version of Netflix is operated by Entertainment Online Service, a subsidiary of National Media Group, which has a stake in Channel One.

Engadget has contacted Netflix for comment.

In November, it emerged Russia was investigating a complaint over LGBTQIA+ content on Netflix. The company told Engadget such content was rated appropriately. That same month, Russia ordered several tech giants (including Apple, Google, Meta, TikTok and Twitter) to set up offices within its borders by the end of this year.

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